Shops & Markets

Video: End of a toy story for Byres Road as Sentry Box gets set to close after 30 years

By Ian Marland at

A toy shop that has been serving Byres Road and the West End for 30 years is to close next month.

Sentry Box Toys will cease trading on Saturday July 1, owner Claire Kilmurry said this week.

A “perfect storm” of factors were behind the decision to shut shop – “with a very heavy heart”.

Sentry Box Toys

Retiring: Claire Kilmurry says a ‘perfect storm’ was behind her decision to close.

The loss of the BBC on Queen Margaret Drive in recent years and the closure of the Western Infirmary and Sick Children’s Hospital at Yorkhill were all factors.

Add to that online competition, and changing tastes for toys and the rise of the coffee shop culture – and you get the picture.

“We’ve decided to close, sadly – it was a perfect storm really.

“Footfall is down with the BBC being closed and two hospitals.

“And with the lack of shops on Byres Road now – it’s just coffee shops – it has meant there are much fewer people on the street.

“We can’t survive bricks and mortar here anymore – so we’ve decided to close.”

Sentry Box Toys

Traditional: Sentry Box Toys sold toys that appealed to children’s hearts and imagination.

Claire said it had always been her intention to sell traditional toys.

She stocks bears, cuddly toys, games and learning toys for young children – along with a wide-range of small pocket-money toys.

And she has always fought against gender stereotyping of toys – she steered away from “pinks and blues”.

“I always wanted to sell toys that appealed to children – not just boys and not just girls.

“Why shouldn’t girls play with tools and hammers?”

Christmas used to be a hugely busy time for the shop on Great George Street – but in recent years sales have been declining.

Sentry Box Toys

Farewell: Where now Paddington? Back to Peru?

Last day: Claire Kilmurry says Sentry Box will close on July 1.

“I would say that has become really noticeable in the last two or three years – definitely.

“People are just shopping differently – and online shopping has changed everything.

“I’ve had people come in and point to a toy and ask if it’s available online.

“I always say ‘well, it’s available to buy now if you want’ – but it shows where people are coming from.”

Claire plans to wind down over the next two weeks before closing the shop on Saturday July 1.

She is already planning an early ‘Christmas’ celebration with her small number of staff on the last day.

Watch: Claire Kilmurry has been trading on Byres Road since 1987.

“We won’t be around for the real thing, so we thought we would bring it forward a few months!” she said.

One interesting fact about Sentry Box: its logo was designed by a world-famous comic artist.

Vin Deighan, better known as Frank Quitely, is a childhood friend of Claire’s.

The artist behind Batman, New X Men and Superman currently has a major art exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum and Gallery.

“Oh, it was something that Vin did for me many years ago when he was at the start of his career.

“I think he got the figures of the children just right – it was perfect for the shop.”

Claire says she is looking forward to the future but will be sad to leave Byres Road.

“Sometimes you just have to move on – I’ll see what the future holds. I’ve really enjoyed my 30 years here.”